Donald Trump on Thursday repeated his false claim that he had watched a video of money being unloaded from a plane at an airport in Iran ― after his campaign acknowledged that such footage doesn’t exist.
“It was interesting because a tape was made, you saw that? With the airplane coming in?” Trump asked the crowd at a rally in Portland, Maine. “Nice plane. And the airplane coming and the money coming off, I guess. That was given to us, has to be, by the Iranians.
“And you know why the tape was given to us? Because they want to embarrass our country, and they want to embarrass our president,” Trump said.
It was the second time in two days that the Republican nominee for president claimed to have seen Iranian video of money being unloaded from a U.S. plane. He first made the claim Wednesday morning, during a rally in Daytona Beach, Florida, and said the video he had seen was “top secret.”
Trump’s spokeswoman told The Washington Post early Thursday that the candidate had actually seen publicly available footage of American citizens disembarking from a plane in Geneva in January. Spokeswoman Hope Hicks didn’t explain why Trump claimed the video was top secret Iranian military footage.
The Wall Street Journal reported on Wednesday that the United States transferred $400 million in various non-U.S. currencies to Iran earlier this year as part of the settlement of a longstanding dispute over weapons sales. The timing of the transfer coincided with the release of four U.S. prisoners from Iran. Critics of the Obama administration say the payment amounted to a ransom.
“I’ll never forget the scene this morning,” Trump told the Florida crowd on Wednesday. “Iran ― I don’t think you’ve heard this anywhere but here ― Iran provided all of that footage, the tape, of taking that money off that airplane.”
But no such video exists, as U.S. officials confirmed to news outlets Thursday.
As a major party nominee, Trump recently became eligible to receive classified intelligence briefings. The Trump campaign’s initial refusal to comment on the video Trump claimed to have seen raised concerns about the possibility that he had disclosed classified information from a briefing.
Yet even after the Trump campaign effectively debunked his description of the video, he made the same false claims in Maine.
Hicks hasn’t replied to multiple emails from The Huffington Post about Trump’s video claim, and the campaign hasn’t produced any videos matching the description of the one Trump says he watched.
Trump’s insistence that he saw a video that his own campaign acknowledges doesn’t exist is the latest distraction in a week in which Trump has embroiled himself in repeated ― and needless ― controversies.